Early Bedtime Prevents Obesity, Study Says

This new study from the Journal of Pediatrics will give you yet another reason to get the little ones off to bed early.

According to research from the Ohio State University College of Public Health, children who go to be earlier are less likely to become obese as teenagers. Lead researcher Sarah Anderson has explained that “young children benefit from having a regular bedtime and bedtime routine,” and that developing healthy habits (such as an early bedtime) from a young age helps keep a child healthy as he or she grows up.

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

This study focused on data from a previous study, conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. There, 977 children born in 1991 were monitored from age 4½ to age 15. Anderson and her team reviewed the bedtimes of each child during their formative years, as well as their height, weight, and body mass index as teens.

The findings were fascinating. According to CNN:

“[T]he researchers found that only 10% of the children who went to bed at 8 p.m. or earlier during their preschool years were obese as teenagers. However, 23% of the children who went to bed after 9 p.m. as preschoolers were obese as teenagers...For the children who went to bed between 8 and 9 p.m. as preschoolers, about 16% were obese as teenagers.”

Benefits of Sleep

Science has long known about the many benefits of sleep. On top of improved mood and cognitive function, research has shown that inadequate sleep can contribute to weight gain. This study adds to the growing evidence that sleep is an essential element to our health – and, as Anderson has pointed out, “Earlier bedtimes are associated with longer sleep times.”

In their report, these study authors encouraged parents to take charge when it comes to establishing early bedtimes. “For young children, parents create the routines that allow children to obtain sufficient sleep to meet their physiologic needs,” they wrote. “However, in establishing young children’s bedtimes, like other household routines, parents must often make compromises as they face competing time demands.”

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